San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is a man of few words on the court, but he has always been uncharacteristically articulate when talking about US President Donald Trump.
The five-time champion mentor recently spoke to The Nation's Dave Zirin and addressed the circumstances and aftermath of George Floyd's death.
Coach Pop, as he is fondly called, said:“The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism, and we’ve seen it all before, but nothing changes. That’s why these protests have been so explosive."
He then addressed what he perceived as the root of the problem. "But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change," he said. "And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever, because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change.”
Floyd's demise sparked peaceful protests against racism and police brutality across the country; unfortunately, looting and violence soon ensued. Trump, who called himself "a law-and-order president", stated on Tuesday (Manila time) that he won't hesitate to send in the troops if the situation in hot spots don't improve.
Pop said of protests, "They are very necessary, but they need to be organized better. It’s frustrating. When Dr. King did a protest, you knew when to show, when to come back the next day. But if you’re just organizing protests and everyone is coming and going in every direction, it doesn’t work that way. If it was nonviolent, they knew to be nonviolent, but this is muddled. More leadership would be very welcome so these incredible mass demonstrations can’t be used by people for other means. We can limit the bad, but only if things are organized better."
The three-time NBA Coach of the Year then unloaded on the enigmatic world leader and his leadership qualities:
Pop is dumbfounded at how things have escalated into what they are now. "If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people.
"But he doesn’t care about bringing people together. Even now. That’s how deranged he is. It’s all about him. It’s all about what benefits him personally. It’s never about the greater good. And that’s all he’s ever been."
According to the Spurs coach, the solution is painfully obvious. “We need a president to come out and say simply that ‘black lives matter.’ Just say those three words. But he won’t and he can’t. He can’t because it’s more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity.
"But it’s more than just Trump. The system has to change. I’ll do whatever I can do to help, because that’s what leaders do. But he can’t do anything to put us on a positive path, because he’s not a leader."
It didn't help that Trump's political rivals are nowhere to be found. "It’s like what Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz used to say when they had the courage to say it: He's unfit. But they have chosen instead to be invisible and obsequious in the face of this carnage."
'A fool, the stooge'
Pop also thinks that the president isn't even the one pulling the strings. "In the end, what we have is a fool in place of a president, while the person who really runs the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, destroys the United States for generations to come. McConnell has destroyed and degraded our judicial system.
"He has tried to destroy health care. He’s destroyed the environment. He’s the master and Trump’s the stooge, and what’s funny is that Trump doesn’t even know it. Trump’s always wanted to be part of the in-group, but McConnell is an in-group of one and Trump plays the fool."
For the winningest coach in NBA history, the former businessman and TV personality is worse than a divisive figure. "He’s a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die. He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I’m appalled that we have a leader who can’t say ‘black lives matter.’"
'A coward, grade-schooler'
Pop suggests not paying Trump any attention. "That’s why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward. He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler."
'A deranged idiot'
"There is nothing he can do to make this better because of who he is: a deranged idiot."